Alcohol and drug use following traumatic brain injury: A prospective study

Jennie Ponsford*, Rochelle Whelan-Goodinson, Alex Bahar-Fuchs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Citations (Scopus)


Primary objectives: To establish pre-morbid alcohol and drug use in persons with TBI, relative to controls, investigate how patterns of substance use change over time following TBI and identify factors associated with heavy post-injury substance use. Methods and procedures: The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification test (AUDIT) and Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST) was completed by 121 hospital inpatients with TBI, documenting pre-injury alcohol and drug use, and 133 demographically similar controls. Participants with TBI completed these measures and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) again 1 and 2 years post-injury and 76 also completed them at 3 years. Results: Participants with TBI showed similar levels of drug and alcohol use to controls pre-injury, with 31.4% of the TBI group and 29.3% of controls drinking at hazardous levels. Alcohol and drug use declined in the first year post-injury, but increased by 2 years post-injury, with only 21.4% of participants with TBI reporting abstinence from alcohol and 25.4% drinking at hazardous levels. Only 9% showed a drug problem, but 24% had returned to some drug use. Those showing heavy alcohol use post-injury were young, male and heavy drinkers pre-injury. Drug and alcohol use was similar at 3 years post-injury. Conclusions: More active intervention is needed to reduce alcohol and drug use following TBI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1385-1392
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Injury
Issue number13-14
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • Drug use
  • Traumatic brain injury


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